I don’t care if a guys team went 90-72 or 75-87. To me, a teams’ record has no bearing on whether or not a player should, or shouldn’t, win the MVP award. The best player in the league should win the ward. In addition, no pitcher should ever win the award. Pitchers have the Cy Young Award, players have the MVP.
In what follows I will begin to run through of the awards and who I think should win them in the NL and AL. Will we agree all the way through? No doubt we won’t, but that doesn’t lesson the fun that the debate engenders.
These are the top-5 options, in my mind, for the NL award. Let me briefly run through the candidacy of each.
Ryan Braun: The modern day Hebrew Hammer, Braun had a bit of a down season with a career worst 25 homers (he’d never been under 32 before). His RBI mark of 103 was also a 3-year low, and though he stole 14 bags, that tied for his career worst mark. Oh, and his OPS of .866 was well below the .918 career mark. It’s pretty tough to think that a guy who failed to live up to his previous level of production would be rewarded by MVP voters in ’10, but that doesn’t change the fact that Braun was again great.
Carlos Gonzalez: The best combo of power and speed on the list, CarGo is the only man who went 20/20, and he actually went 25/25. He actually socked 34 homers and stole 26 bases, while leading the NL in batting average at .336. He was also one RBI off the NL lead in RBI (117) and he and Pujols were the only two players to have 110 RBI and 110 runs (CarGo had 111 runs). However, Gonzalez has one massive negative on his ledger – he was merely a major league average hitter on the road (.289-8-41-41-16 in 71 games). As great as his numbers were, and they were spectacular, it appeared to have been solely a function of hitting in Colorado half the time (.380-26-76-70-10).
Albert Pujols: For the first time Pujols led the league in RBI (118) while he repeated as the homer champ (42). Pujols also paced the senior circuit with 115 runs scored, hit .312 (12th), and had a 1.011 OPS that was fourth. The numbers were once again stupendous, but will Pujols lose some votes this season because of the fact that, despite his otherworldly studliness, his production this season (.312-42-118-115-14) was really no different than his career pace per campaign (.331-41-123-119-8)?
Troy Tulowitzki: You often win MVP’s because of your late season work, and no one was more impressive in that regard than Troy Tulowitzki who had a historic finish to a great season (.315-27-95-89-11). Tulo hit .323 with 18 homers and 61 RBI over his last 60 games, but even those numbers pale in comparison to what he offered over his last 30 games during which time he hit .303 with 15 homers and 40 RBI. He ended the year leading all big league shortstops in homers, RBI and batting average, and his total of 89 runs was fourth. He only appeared in 122 games though, and he also will lose some votes to CarGo who was a great foil.
Joey Votto: He led the group of players in OPS (1.024 – the best in the NL), and he also led the group with a .424 OBP (another league best) and a .600 SLG. Votto also blasted 37 homers leading to 113 RBI and 106 runs, while hitting a robust .324 with 16 thefts. Votto’s team also made the playoffs, and some will undoubtedly view that fact as the deciding factor when placing their vote.
Some more numbers.
Braun: .866 OPS, 112 RC, 31 RCAA
CarGo: .974 OPS, 132 RC, 44 RCAA
Pujols: 1.011 OPS, 142 RC, 66 RCAA
T. Tulo: .949 OPS, 98 RC, 25 RCAA
J. Votto: 1.024 OPS, 144 RC, 74 RCAA
Braun and Tulowitzki clearly fall behind the other three, and they can be removed from the discussion.
Gonzalez has the worst OPS, lowest RC and RCAA of the final three, and again, he just didn’t do anything on the road.
That leaves Votto and Pujols. Given that Votto slightly edged Pujols in AVG/OBP/SLG and RCAA, I’m gonna give he award to Votto by the slightest of margins.
5- Troy Tulowitzki
4- Ryan Braun
3- Carlos Gonzalez
2- Albert Pujols
1- Joey Votto
By Ray Flowers